Global Net phone service debuts

Start-up Internet telephony company ITXC Corporation's service links international ITSPs to each other with traditional phone lines and IPs.

3 min read
Start-up Internet telephony company ITXC Corporation, a venture backed by AT&T and Net telephony firm VocalTec Communications, today launched its worldwide Internet telephony service.

Due to be up and running by April, WWeXchange Service will allow companies to offer Internet telephone calls worldwide by linking international ITSPs (Internet telephony service providers) to each other and their affiliates by using a combination of traditional phone lines and Internet protocols (IPs), the company said.

Touting the new service as the next step in Internet telephony, ITXC founder Tom Evslin said WWeXchange breaks down many of the traditional barriers that have faced the young industry. "The industry has suffered from the 'can't get here from there' problem. But with WWeXchange, it makes it possible to reach any phone anywhere."

Until now, callers making international phone calls on the Internet were limited by a sparse selection of routes. This was further limited because the small companies that provided the Internet telephony services were not connected with each other, so callers had to deal with separate companies to call different cities.

WWeXchange Service will route each call from the Internet to a gateway operated by an ITXC-certified ITSP in the city the caller is trying to reach. The gateway then connects the call to the local phone network for completion to a telephone. If there is no affiliated ITSP with compatible equipment in the destination city, WWeXchange Service completes the call from the United States to the destination city using traditional long distance, according to the company.

Evslin said his company will act as a third-party agent to the "infant" IP telephony industry to allow ISPs, telephone companies, and other communications providers to collaborate and share network and IP telephony gateway architecture.

Joining ITXC in today's announcement, leading routing provider iPass said it will provide its settlement technology and services to ITXC to enable connections between the growing number of ITSPs around the world, the company said.

This IP settlement function is a key component of WWeXchange Service. Until now, it was simply not practical for individual ITSPs to provide true global coverage, according to an iPass executive.

iPass president and chief executive Chris Moore said it would take years for each ITSP to build such an infrastructure on its own, or to develop thousands of bilateral relationships. The ITXC plan is parallel to other successful, rapid-growth industries such as banking, cellular, transaction clearing in the credit card industry, and the Internet roaming service that iPass provides to ISPs today, he added.

Evslin said that although the service will not be up and running until April, his company will start taking applications from interested communication companies today. Although the company would not name all the participants at this time, it did release statements of support from companies in Asia and Europe.

Evslin, who founded AT&T's Internet service provider, WorldNet, in 1994, has been a vocal advocate for Internet services. At AT&T he was responsible for developing, operating, and marketing Net access to more than 900,000 consumers.